Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Best Advice I Ever Got: Know When to Quit

I can’t pinpoint a particular source for this piece of advice. Maybe that’s because it’s one of those maxims applicable to a variety of situations and circumstances.

Eighth grade Home Ec, for instance. I remember making a fruit salad that was held together with whipped cream. In the days before tubs of pre-whipped artificial fluff, that meant beating heavy cream until it thickened and held its shape.

Beat it one turn of the mixer blades too long, however, and the cream separated into butter and whey. No turning back, no turning back. The only thing to do was to start over with a new batch of cream.

Art can be like that, too. It’s tempting to work and rework a painting, a poem, a play before we let go of it. Just another few brushstrokes here, rework a scene there, and it will be perfect, right?

But work it too long and art suffers. Maybe not quite so visibly. But somehow inspiration and technique separate, and we lose the impetus that drives us to share our work. And isn’t sharing our work part of the point of creating it?

Quitting too soon, of course, isn’t good either. Cream not whipped enough returns to its liquid state, resulting in runny fruit salad. Half-baked plots result in stories that fall apart.

Knowing the point at which a creation is ready to be presented to the world is an art in itself. Not too soon, but not too late, instead of being hidden away under the pretext of not being quite finished.

I wrote this for the August/September 2009 "Hoot O' the Owl," the newsletter of the Clearwater Branch of the National League of American Pen Women. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Lazy, hazy days of summer . . .

. . . are coming to an end. Kinda sorta, anyway.

The autumnal equinox doesn't happen for another almost month, but school started today in the Tampa Bay area. And even though I haven't sent kids off to school in more years than I really want to acknowledge, the start of school is still, to me, the end of summer.

I only hope it's also the end of the "could care less, just leave me alone" lethargy that hits too often this time of year.

Maybe the fact that I'm actually posting a blog entry is a good sign!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Catching Up

More than a month since my last post and only one -- gentle -- reminder from my editor.

That's because he knew what I'd been working on. Day and night. Night and day. Marathon writing at all hours to get it done.

What is it, you ask? Well . . .

Check out

I'll get back to Kalends and Ides, I promise.